The Balance of Power
September 10, 2019
“Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate.”
“There can be no true friends without true enemies. Unless we hate what we are not, we cannot love what we are.”
– Samuel P. Huntington
Cold War 2: Phoney War of 2019
Neil Wiley has a top floor office in Washington DC that overlooks the Potomac River, with full views of the Pentagon and Reagan National Airport. It’s a space well-suited for deep contemplation on big issues by the director of analysis for the Defense Intelligence Agency, and Wiley’s been doing a lot of thinking about China’s military. According to Wiley: “The Chinese military has undergone a substantial program of modernization to the point now where they are a near-peer military in a number of military domains.”
The DIA has issued an unclassified report on China’s military, similar to reports it put out on the Soviet military during last century’s Cold War between the US and the USSR. This year’s report details China’s rise: a military budget second only to the US, an aggressive approach to disputed islands in the South China Sea, joint military exercises with Russia, its first foreign military base in Djibouti.
DIA Director Army Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley Jr. writes in the report: “Chinese leaders characterize China’s long-term military modernization program as essential to achieving great power status…[It’s] on the verge of fielding some of the most modern weapon systems in the world. In some areas, it already leads the world.”
Government agencies avoid the term ‘Cold War,’ but outside government circles the question — whether the US is entering a new cold war with China — is a hot topic. A robust discussion is being had on the similarities and differences between the US-Soviet rivalry and the increasingly tense US-China relationship.
- The Phoney War (Wikipedia)
- As China trade war escalates, 2020 U.S. Democrats scramble over their message (Reuters)
- China loves its pork, but prices are rising and that could be a problem (WaPo, $)
Russia Is a Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma
- On Sunday Russia held local elections, and for the most part candidates friendly to the Kremlin were elected. It happened because those candidates faced virtually no opposition.
- Local election commissions had made sure to strike activists off the ballot on one pretext or another, and local media ignored those who did manage to stay in the race; demonstrations all summer against those election-rigging practices, sadly, were unsuccessful.
- A wave of protests in Moscow still drew huge numbers, and a violent police response.
- A Kremlin-friendly think tank declined to release exit polls results for Moscow’s city council because too many voters refused to cooperate. (WaPo) And yet, the Guardian reports things very differently: Pro-Putin candidates suffer losses in Moscow elections: Opposition figure Alexei Navalny hails success of tactical voting campaign (Guardian)
- US removed covert source in Russia due to safety concerns under Trump – report: CNN says decision made shortly after 2017 Oval Office meeting (Guardian)
Some Guys For Some Guys Makes The Whole World Slightly Better
- Russia and Ukraine conducted a major prisoner exchange on Saturday that released 70 people who had been imprisoned in both countries. It is seen as a step toward easing tensions that have been smoldering between the countries since Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea in 2014.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he is ready to schedule talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss a possible resolution to the ongoing dispute.
- President Trump sent out a congratulatory tweet saying this could be “a first giant step to peace.” But Trump has ulterior motives aimed at helping Putin and himself. The president has refused to grant the Ukrainian leader a White House visit, and has held up $250 million in US military aid promised Ukraine as it continues to fight Russian aggression in its eastern provinces.
- Sources have also reported that Trump is attempting to force Zelensky to intervene in the 2020 US presidential election by launching a fabricated investigation of the leading Democratic candidate, Joe Biden. (NPR, WaPo)
No Home Shouldn’t Mean No Government
- Marsh Harbor is a town in Abaco Islands, Bahamas. In 2012 it had a population of nearly 6,300. But Hurricane Dorian came through a week ago and now Marsh Harbor is a ghost town. 90 percent of the island’s infrastructure was destroyed.
- Desperate survivors who awaited transport to the country’s capital, Nassau, said there was no food, medicine or water; they accused the government of failing to provide assistance and prevent looting in the aftermath of the gigantic storm.
- The official death toll so far is 45, but Abaco residents said officials were covering up the number of deaths and not retrieving bodies. (NPR, BBC)
- ‘Grand Bahama right now is dead’: A firsthand look at Dorian’s destruction: Three CNN journalists recount what it was like to ride out the storm and emerge to its aftermath (CNN)
- ‘There is nothing here’: The future is uncertain for 70,000 in the Bahamas left homeless by Dorian (CNN)
- Dozens of Bahamas Hurricane Survivors Kicked Off Ferry Bound for U.S.: People struggling to leave a devastated island were ordered off the boat because they had no visas. (NYT, $)
Shoo Mosquito, Don’t Infect Me
- After extensive lab research, scientists in Kenya, along with global health partners, have found a highly effective way to kill the parasite that causes malaria.
- Trials in the West African country of Burkina Faso proved that Ivermectin, a conventional drug used for parasitic diseases, could be administered to humans to make their blood deadly to female mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite.
- The US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will now perform human trials using the new antimalarial drugs derived from the bacteria; the drugs could then be available for general use in less than two years.
- Malaria affects more than 200 million people globally and claims nearly 500,000 lives a year, with children especially vulnerable. (Guardian)
Donald Gives Dorian A Detour
- The Trump administration chooses politics and the president’s vanity over science at every juncture and nowhere is this evidenced more than the latest flap over weather warnings.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a scientific agency that studies the skies and oceans and everything related thereto. The National Weather Service is the agency within NOAA that is tasked with providing weather forecasts and warnings of dangerous weather to the public; it does this by working closely with a collection of national and regional centers and local Weather Forecast Offices.
- Both NOAA and NWS are within the Commerce Department, and the head of the Commerce Department is a political appointee.
- On September 1 President Trump tweeted that Hurricane Dorian would hit Alabama, which was untrue. The NWS’s Birmingham office corrected the president’s claim to calm escalating fears in Alabama.
- That same night Trump’s appointee at the Commerce Department threatened to fire top employees at the weather service for contradicting the president.
- Trump continued for days to claim he was correct, even showing on television an altered NOAA map to prove he’d been right. Then the NOAA released an unsigned statement dissing the Birmingham office and supporting the president.
- On Monday NOAA’s acting chief scientist said the move by the agency to back the president was political, and that he would pursue “the potential violations of our NOAA Administrative Order on Scientific Integrity.” (UCS, WaPo, NYT, NPR)
Is It High Time For The End Of High Heels?
- For years women have been teetering on top of their high heels, often tripping, stumbling, even falling off of them. The pain could be excruciating, and injury to feet and toes lifelong.
- Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw was the quintessential high-heel-adoring-anything-for-fashion-and-looking-sexy female of the late 1990s, early 2000s, with Hollywood celebrities and pop culture icons carrying on the tradition today.
- But author Lauren Bravo says the days of stilettos could be numbered, and fashion sneakers the wave of the future. (NPR)
- Jennifer Gunter: ‘Women are being told lies about their bodies’ (Guardian)
- What’s causing women to join the NoFap movement? A Reddit forum dedicated to abstaining from masturbation has over 450,000 members – and about 5% of them are female (Guardian)
- The Trick to Life Is to Keep Moving What my friendship with a woman 51 years my senior taught me about growing up. (NYT, $)
“Stoics belittle physical harm, but this is not braggadocio. They are speaking of it in comparison to the devastating agony of shame they fancied good men generating when they knew in their hearts that they had failed to do their duty” – Robert D. Kaplan
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